The Art of Storytelling

by Chieftain Branwen

First Rule of Storytelling: There are no rules.
Second Rule of Storytelling: Everything can be substituted.
Third Rule of Storytelling: Remember the Rule of Three.

One of the key elements to good public storytelling is tying in the theme of the occasion to the story. It then becomes not just some time filler to listen to, but a part of the energy and magic of the event itself. Oral storytelling has a long rich history of imparting wisdom, morale, and evoking emotion. It is that history that you want to tap into in the moment. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is the theme of the occasion?
How do modern people relate to this theme (and what are some difficulties they might have)?
What are some conflicts that reflect this theme?
Are there key elements tying into the next activity that need to be present?

Even when simply re-telling a myth, asking these questions and infusing the theme of the story into it can elevate the story, and the event. Most classical myths are the mere skeletons of stories, and are ready and waiting to be used as vehicles for magic and lessons.

Storytelling is about creating history in the moment, do not be afraid to change myth and stories to fit the need of the event. People will remember things that connect directly to them much more, and we are creating our own traditions in doing so.

Rule of Three

It is easier to remember stories with elements of three. At its simplest, any story can be broken down into three parts:

Introduction: Climax: Resolution

Each of those parts can also be simplified into three points:

  • Introduction: Set up the world, set up character, set up conflict and/or lesson "theme."
  • Climax: Three quests/tasks/challenges all tying in to "theme."
  • Resolution: Achievement of lesson "theme," ending for character, tie into next activity or the event itself.

Tips and Tricks

  • You don't have to memorize everything!
    (Memorize the bullet points of the Rule of Three, names, and one or two details.)
  • Look your audience in the eye, make connections.
  • Volume and inflection can make or break you.
  • Movement is good, make sure it's intentional.
  • Remember the first rule of storytelling, there are no rules.

Resources

Books on world folktales and mythology
Wikipedia's List of fairy tales
Children's storybooks
Folk songs
Look into the "Hero's Journey"